Lessons Learned from Wedding Planning

The follow-up sentence to this title should read: from someone who is known as a control freak by everyone who knows her and also has mild OCD.

I realized how much time has passed since we got engaged when a co-worker a few days ago asked if I had found my dress yet, and I replied, “Yes, just this past November.”

Pause. Not November 2015. NOVEMBER 2014, OVER A YEAR AGO.

So yeah, we’ve been planning our wedding for quite a while now. And our wedding planner reminded us we only have 18 weeks left until our wedding, which ended up with Timmy and I dry heaving a bit at this news. Things haven’t felt all that stressful the last 6 months or so, simply because we got most everything completed as soon as we set the date.

I know I’m quite different from most people in this world. Organized doesn’t even begin to describe how I operate. I see the world not how it is, but how I can group like things with like and how quickly can I accomplish challenges and to-do lists. So once Timmy and I set the date, off I went like a horse out of the gate.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned over the process of planning a wedding for a date 1.5 years after getting engaged. I tried to give us enough time to do what we needed to do (from a different state) while also giving us a cushion of time to also do the dirty work of getting used to what life would be like as a married couple. So many lessons however were ones that came out of left field for me.

I originally scheduled dress shopping at only two small stores in Atlanta Thanksgiving weekend in 2014 simply to placate my sister and mother, who were quickly starting down the “when are you going to start planning” path. I figured dress shopping would calm them down.

Lesson #1: Expect the Unexpected

…like buying a dress before you thought you would and before you have a budget.

I had ZERO plans to buy a dress. And lo and behold, I found my dress at the last store we went into, La Raine’s Bridal Boutique in Virginia Highlands. Correction: my sister found my dress, which was the last one of the day, and I had already changed back into my clothes when my sister brought me the dress. I immediately said, “Oh. My. God.” when I put it on, and the consultant reminded me that this dress was the only one I had a reaction to.

And then I knew. Done. Check. Dress found.

The whole thing happened faster than I had intended, and all of the sudden, with that decision, wedding planning had begun. I wholeheartedly had planned on waiting MONTHS before starting any type of planning with Timmy.

Expectations mean next to nothing when it comes to wedding planning.

Even though it wasn’t the color I wanted, it wasn’t ever what I had envisioned, it was definitely my dress. Which leads me to my second lesson-

Lesson #2: Compromise Will Save You…and Your Sanity

I tried on maybe 20 dresses at both stores. And once I found my dress, I stopped the search and never looked back. I’m the best decision-maker ever (although some have called me impulsive, including myself). I make decisions quickly, with assertiveness and acceptance. Timmy, well, not so much.

I learned maybe 1 minute into our wedding planning that everything I learned about being with Timmy would have to be applied times 10 to the planning process or else we were going to kill each other. I would make a list of decisions that needed to be made, asked him to honestly decide if he cared about those decisions, and the ones he agreed to, I gave him 2-3 weeks to marinate before re-addressing the issues.

That way, I wasn’t all down his grill about deciding things on my schedule, and I still got a decision made by him in a timely fashion.

Obviously, not all decisions have worked like this, but I would say, once we found our groove, probably 75% of the decisions were solved in this way.

I have compromised on nearly every aspect that I thought I would have very strong opinions about. When it came down to it, if it seemed like Timmy felt stronger about something than I did, I let him have it his way. Now, some of those decisions are biting us in the ass a bit now, and I wish I had fought more for some of the things that are going exactly the way I predicted, but hindsight, blah blah blah.

Lesson #3: You Have to Let It Go

Making decisions between Timmy and I has never been an easy thing. I knew heading into this we would really be testing our relationship in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. At the end of the day however, we both realized that we had to let it go. Resentments? Let it go. Anger? Let it go. Confusion and frustration? Let it go.

And I don’t mean let it go like “never discuss it and get over it.” I mean, talk. Talk. More talking. Talk more than you thought you needed to. And then talk again.

Talking through everything that popped up, no matter how insignificant the emotion or issue, made us get on the same page. There was no other option than to be in sync with each other.

And after talking, we realized the issues or things we were so worked up about, NOW we could just let them go.

Lesson #4: You Have to Be on the Same Team. Period.

There has been some drama pop up here and there, like everyone experiences when you attempt to bring two families and two sets of friendships together. If Timmy and I had been divided on anything, we would probably not be wedding planning at this point anymore.

The first issue that ever popped up, the one that blindsided us completely, and had us scrambling to re-evaluate some friendships and trusted loved ones, FORCED us to be on the same team. He had to have my back and I had to have his. We knew we could NOT have opposing or conflicting statements, emotions, or decisions. Any sign of us not being together on it would have severely affected the emotional state of the other person and could have torn us apart.

Once we realized how strong our teamwork was and how it made our vision complete, we have been on the same team on everything else since then. There are no ifs, ands, or butts on this one.

Lesson #5: Still Date Each Other

This one got much easier once we moved back in together at the beginning of this month. Timmy and I hadn’t lived together in 2 years, so every weekend we spent together, going back and forth between Orlando and St. Pete was always filled with dinners out and about.

But during the week, it was usually a call once or twice a day, and then a quick FaceTime right before going to bed. Love was there, but connecting is quite challenging that way.

Once we moved back in, we promised each other a number of things that we’ll see how well we can stick to them over time. The one thing we HAVE done is cook meals and sit down at the dinner table nearly every night for almost 4 weeks. No t.v., no phones, no distractions. Just us.

It can be easy, after 6.5 years together, to start to take each other for granted. And yes, for the record, I’ve heard 90% of Timmy’s life stories a million times now. But that shouldn’t keep us from spending real time together. Time enjoying meals cooked together or by the other partner. Time looking at each other, time not rushed, time for us.

It’s only been a month of living in my less than 800 square foot, one bedroom, one bath apartment, a place we were CERTAIN would make us kill each other in no time at all, and we have grown so much closer, it’s insane. In our cozy little apartment, it feels more like home than any other place we’ve lived together.

Lesson #6: Use Who You Hire

We made about 93% of the decisions on our own. And yes, one of our first decisions was to hire a wedding planner. But I’ve only used her for her expertise maybe 3 times in almost a year.

Why? Like most things in life, sometimes it’s just easier when you do it yourself. I used the internet, my wise friends and family, and my gut to make decisions and hire vendors that fit our vision. I talked to my most organized friends and they gave me what they had when they were planning their own wedding.

I quite clearly can do this all myself. I involved Timmy on the things he asked to be involved in. But at the end of the day, I struggled with figuring out how to use my wedding planner.

And then, MONTHS after already printing out the invitations and having them sit in my apartment for close to 9 months now, my wedding planner caught the only typo that 6 of us who reviewed the invitation never caught.

And my heart fell through my butt.

Obviously (well not really as she had to explain this to me on the phone yesterday) proofreading every important document is a wedding planner’s duty. [Thankfully, the typo is not a big deal or else I would have to order brand new ones. Most people won’t even catch it when they receive the invite. Whew.]

So that naturally led to discussions of the guest list (which so far, has really been the only point of true contention between Timmy and I). And she reminded me of the million and one things to remember when addressing envelopes (which are stupid and I hate them), so she reminded me that she also can look through the guest list to review everything there.

I mean, these are things that it didn’t even occur to me to use her for. I didn’t need her help in picking out invites. We didn’t want to spend a fortune because everyone just throws them away anyways, and we weren’t going to design some floral, romantic, girly thing from scratch. We didn’t want to spend money on calligraphy since the envelopes are the first to go in the trash. But what she did remind me was that since the invites are technically from my parents, they would want calligraphy on the envelopes since it’s a thoughtful and very beautiful touch.

She helped steer us to some vendors that have been amazing so far, but the band was all us, color choices were me, outfits us, wedding page me, music selection us. Her expertise was so invaluable at the beginning when I didn’t know how to talk to vendors, how to look at proposals, how to not work with some vendors, spatial design and decor for a room the size of ours.

If you hire a wedding planner or day-of-coordinator, USE THEM. Don’t believe for a second, since you’re so organized, you don’t need them until the day of. I could’ve saved SO MUCH TIME just reviewing all my decisions directly with her instead of searching the internet like a mad woman for proper etiquette, yada, yada, yada.

Lesson #7: Poof! There Goes Your Budget

You have set ideas how things will go. I wanted to elope and avoid spending money of any kind. I wanted the whole thing to be about the two of us, that’s it. And Timmy felt very strongly that NO.

All of the sudden, we were planning a wedding that I didn’t really want. My parents gave us a budget (because they are amazing and OMG how incredible are they?!!) and it didn’t work with the amount of people on the list. Then they raised it. And it still didn’t work. And they raised it again. And the whole time Timmy and I kept fighting about the guest list and the amount of money I felt we were spending and at the same time wasting.

And then we had another budget increase from Timmy’s mother, and all of the sudden, our costs went crazy. It was like there was no limit on something I had desperately wanted limits for. And I felt crushed. Crushed by guilt. Crushed by the loss of the way I had wanted things to turn out.

If you don’t put your foot down, your budget will explode in your face. My parents gave us, quite frankly, a VERY healthy budget and it still wasn’t enough to satisfy some people’s desires. Instead of buckling down and saying from the very beginning, oh well, we can’t have everything and everyone we’ve known our whole lives at this wedding, we’re still running into issues around the guest list now.

But because we’re also on the same team, these later challenges have felt much easier to handle since we’re both shouldering the effort.

Lesson #8: Plan for the Marriage, Not the Wedding

Like I said before, we have had a long engagement intentionally. At the very beginning, I had a VERY hard time adjusting to this new course in life. I hated everything that we were doing and everything that we had to keep making decisions on.

And now, I’m loving it. I love planning. I love making decisions. We’re at a really good place where now all I am is excited for our wedding. I’m not dreading it, I’m not sad or guilty or anything else but stoked to party with all our friends. I’m so excited, some days I’m ready for it to be tomorrow.

But we 100% haven’t forgotten that the wedding is one day. The real thing is the marriage. The wedding is temporary, a memory that hopefully we’ll be able to store away as much as we can for as long as we can, but a marriage is forever. Whenever we’re with our married friends, one of my first questions is “What is your advice to us?”

I’m craving time with Timmy, even in our cramped apartment, because soon, he will be my husband (I’m still making gagging noises when I say that, so clearly I’m not 100% ready). I need to know him better, I need to trust him more than ever, I need to feel like we’re both fully committed to this partnership. Not that I haven’t felt any of those things before. I just need them more now.

Because marriage is the hard stuff. Picking out vases and candles and outfits and paper for invitations is not hard. That stuff is NOTHING compared to what kind of life marriage brings two people. And it’s a part of life that Timmy and I have zero context for because we’ve never been married.

It’s the fear and uncertainty of the unknown that is keeping my brain up at night sometimes. Even when my heart is settled and sure and dedicated.

So through all these lessons, this roller coaster of emotions spent on a million plus decisions for this wedding, I still repeat what I said almost one year ago:

“The happy is being with my partner, the happy is spending a life exploring each other and this world, the happy is making him laugh for years to come, the happy is in the celebration of this love.

The happy is Timmy. Which will be my mantra from here until our wedding day.”

♥, VB

Advertisements

The End of 2015 and Life Lately

So a lot has happened in the past two months and boom, now it’s 2016. I thought I’d catch you up on our lives the past two months before I launch into the great BIG changes that have happened in the last few weeks.

Halloween, Timmy and I celebrated our 1-year engagement at Spinners on St. Pete Beach. It’s a rotating restaurant that I dumbly reserved a table for AFTER the sunset, so we saw a whole bunch of nothingness. We will return with much better timing.

I finally talked Timmy into wearing a couples’ costume, which he poo-pooed until he realized that it was just a black cotton t-shirt with jeans. We were Opposites Attract, but apparently people also thought we were a pregnancy test, so it has multiple uses. #Imeanttodothat

We also went out to Green Bench Brewery, one of our favorite St. Pete spots and in one of the most random run-ins I’ve ever had, ran into the little sister of one of my close college friends. WHAAATTT?! We ended the night at Enigma for a lot of gay costume contesting and free beers bought for us by people wishing that Timmy was gay.

For maybe one of my highest professional achievements, I was selected as one of the 8 inaugural TEDxUSFSP speakers on November 13. I had a blast creating the talk, practicing it, and then finally performing on stage in front of students, colleagues, Timmy and Gavin, one of my friends that I met through St. Pete Pride. It was truly awesome, and I can’t wait until the video comes out.

November finished out with a morning trip to Auburn immediately following my TEDx talk. It was a super fast trip that started with an 11 AM game and ended with a star-filled night at Lake Martin with good friends. We also got to meet Wiles, my friend Heather’s newest baby girl and Timmy got grossed out by my bachelorette party gift.

December ended the way it should. I made a gingerbread house for the first time, we moved Timmy out of his apartment in Orlando into mine (more on that later), drove to Atlanta for Christmas and New Year with both our families. A little drama here and there, a WHOLE LOT of driving, and so. much. love.

Hope you all had the best holidays, whatever you celebrate, and hope mostly that your final days of 2015 were filled with nothing but joy, love, and hope!

Happy New Year!

♥,

VB

VicTim Bach Bash

Bachelor/bachelorette parties are a funny thing. Sometimes they are just the most incredible, most memorable experiences where the groom/bride are surrounded by their best friends who turn the world over to make it all about them for one night/weekend.

Labor Day weekend was Timmy and my joint bachelor-bachelorette parties. They were joint in the sense that we both had them in St. Pete and planned a Sunday beach field day, but other than that, they were separate.

My weekend was amazing. My friends who I invited that are either in my bridal party or are my best friends in the world couldn’t have made that weekend any more incredibly relaxing, chill, and overall exactly what I wanted. We hung out at the beach which was no joke, about 50 yards away from our Treasure Island house. Or what we called it, the 80s Porn Palace.

Yeah. It’s exactly what you would picture in your mind. In fact, a few of us thought we recognized it from somewhere…:)

My maid of honor Lyndsay, my past roommate of 5 years and one of my best friends in this world, went ABOVE and BEYOND. She shopped, she cooked, she prepared, she planned, she had anxiety, but she did the damn thing. I kept telling her that I didn’t expect her to plan it like how I would plan it, because really, that’s crazy, but man I can’t believe what an awesome job she did. If anyone’s in the market (she may cut me for offering her maid of honor services), she left no stone unturned. I couldn’t have asked for anything better than what she did.

And all my friends! AHHHHHH, they were the best! I had two surprise guests show up who I thought weren’t coming, and my other friends were there for me all weekend. No one complained, no one was dramatic, no one was bitchy, and everyone stayed by my side the whole time. Sure, we were kinda boring, taking naps, and reading books, and laying out, and getting in the water, but we’re in our 30s now. My days of clubbing are over because that’s pretty much all I did in my 20s. No need to re-live the good old days because I’m still having lots of good days now.

We did have a few incidents with someone, but other than that, the rest of us were no-drama, sun-loving, relaxing fools. I love you all, there’s a reason you’re in my life — you make my life happier and brighter, you celebrate with me and you grieve with me, you’re there when I need you and I’m there whenever you need me. Thank you for being you.

Two of my bridesmen (my 3rd couldn’t get on a flight unfortunately) stayed at Timmy’s place and spent the weekend going back and forth between our house, our Saturday night dinner, and their house. I planned a private dining room dinner at Station House Saturday night  in downtown St. Pete where we stuffed ourselves silly and just really really really enjoyed ourselves, went to one bar, then went home to get into our pjs. Sleep was such a necessity that weekend, I’m really glad all my friends are now in the same “I kinda love sleep more than people” space that I am in.

I was so sad to say goodbye to everyone, it was just enough time to get comfortable with my friends, but not enough time to feel like we had all really caught up with each other. Seriously you guys, you made the trip, you took the time and $$ to celebrate my life with Timmy, I’m so humbled and honored and blown away that you would put me first like that. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

It’s true, the time went by too fast. The weekend shot by like a bullet. And at certain times, I wish that it had been a real bullet directed at a few people who attended the parties that weekend. Timmy’s experience…well, let’s just say, it wasn’t the same as mine. But that’s his story to tell, not mine.

But to end this post on a happy note (because by nature, I’m not a negative person), I love all of you who made our parties a place to celebrate not only our love, but our friendships with you, our bonds, our connections. You spent money on us, you blocked off time for us, you came because you love us. Without y’all’s support, Timmy and I definitely wouldn’t be the people we are today.

♥, VB

What Happens After a Perfect Day

I figured I might as well get the horrible part of this blog post out of the way so I could finish it on a high note. I can look back on it and laugh, but that day, nothing was funny.

I’m talking about the day after our amazing engagement party where I experienced what I assume to be the 2nd closest feeling to death without actually being dead (the actual closest is food poisoning, where I would gladly welcome death instead).

I honestly don’t know what happened. Being a health educator, you’d think at this point, 32 years old, hangovers would be a thing of the past. But man, did I get schooled on what it’s like to mingle at a wedding-themed event that revolves around you and your partner.

I had no idea how hard it would be to remember to eat enough and drink water when attempting to make every single guest who drove 1+ hours to Athens in your honor feel welcome and appreciated. I’m sure some people felt a tiny bit shafted by Timmy and I; I promise we tried to make the rounds but we only had so much time to fit it all in. And we only had like 30+ guests! I can’t even imagine how freaking difficult this is going to be at our actual wedding.

We did make it out to downtown Athens that night with Timmy’s cousins Matt and Leeanna and my brother in law Jared with a follow-up at Waffle House, if that’s any indication to you how the day went.

So obviously, Sunday, was the the worst. Absolute worst. Ever. I’ve never felt that bad for that long. It’s true what they say about hangovers in your 30s — they will make you regret every decision you ever made that led you to that point. I won’t go into details, but needless to say, I had to reschedule my flight home until the next morning (I would’ve missed it anyways thanks to construction traffic), and I finally stopped throwing up at 4 PM. FOUR O’ CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON.

Thankfully, my mom was there to take care of me and make me my favorite childhood soup remedy. I don’t care how old you are, when you get sick, all you want is your mommy.

I’m getting flashbacks, so let me move on with the story.

So the actual engagement party day was pretty perfect. It was hot as f%^k (which duh, it was the last weekend in July in Georgia. Of course it’s going to be hot) and we all pretty much sweated off any attempt at makeup, but I didn’t care for long. Once people started showing up, it was pretty sweet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

setting up

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

sitting area

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

all ready for that low country boil!

It’s a little odd to be the direct center of attention at a party. Even our 30 Years, 1 Wish party was about something bigger than ourselves, so the attention, while on us, was shared with our charities and special guests. Our engagement party and subsequent fiestas are about us, and that’s a little odd.

But not unwelcome. If anyone loves being the center of attention, it’s this girl and Timmy. It’s like we were born for this kind of stuff. 🙂

You’ll probably notice that I have on two dresses in these pictures. The first one, I loved and felt like a pretty little girl in. But I quickly realized that the fabric wasn’t letting any air in between my legs, and I immediately ditched that plan after the first two guests arrived and switched to a shorter dress.

One of my favorite moments of the party were when at one point, I walked inside and all my guy friends were inside in the AC with their children while their wives were outside drinking. To hell with gender roles!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My two bridesmen, Matt and Austin, with their sons, Matthew and Aidyn

Also, this moment was made possible by our old neighbors from Norcross who remember me from before I was even a baby. Their gift giving ability receives a perfect 10.

2015-07-25 19.36.10-1

The Joy of Sex, indeed

Also, at some point, this also happened. No words. Just awesomeness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

’01 Yeah

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

my bro in law Jared and Timmy mean muggin’ like old ass high schoolers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We love being dorks and will never apologize.

Honestly, I’m so impressed that we all fit into our old letter jackets. Seriously, that’s an accomplishment to add to our life lists.

We just can’t find the words to say how appreciative we are of everyone who came to the party and risked standing dead still in traffic on insert-any-Atlanta-highway-here. To my sister (and matron-of-honor) Carla and my bridesmaid Heather for hosting the party. Thank you to my bro-in-law Jared for standing in direct sunlight for over two hours making the low country boil (first batch non-spicy, just for me!) and quite possibly losing a gallon of body hydration in the process. To my parents who came early in the week to help babysit my nieces, set up, cook, and decorate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

It was just an awesome day. Thank you.

♥, VB

Rough Go

That’s been me lately. Having a rough go of it. It’s like a switch has been thrown and I’m in the funk.

This whole wedding planning thing is OVERWHELMING. Capital letters all the way.

I don’t say this for pity or to be dramatic. I know there are worse things happening globally, there are things that need attention beyond my little world. I know people would love to be in a position of planning an over-the-top wedding with all the fixins. But I am completely overwhelmed.

I’ve been trying to find the happy medium, the balance, but let me tell you, when your ideal wedding was a courthouse getaway that has now been turned into a full-blown wedding extravaganza, it’s hard to find the healthy grip on life again.

All the compromises, I’ve heard them and pitched them, so no need to offer advice on how to find the middle ground, either. Destination wedding? Timmy vetoed that a LONG time ago. Courthouse wedding then have a big party? No difference in the overall price, so not really worth compromising on. Eloping? I think I would greatly regret it. Split the cost? I. am. poor.

I don’t need any, “Hey girl, you’ll be fine!” and I especially don’t need any, “Just get over it and have fun!” None of those help, and in fact, they make me feel worse.

The budget just keeps climbing and climbing so fast I’m having anxiety and trouble sleeping. I’m feeling such an overwhelming (there’s that word again) amount of guilt mixed with appreciation…I don’t really think there’s a word that fits the feeling that has embedded itself into my veins. My parents have offered to pay for the wedding, which holy shit, is just about the most generous thing they’ve done for me since, oh I don’t know, paid for all of my education and everything I’ve ever needed ever.

How do you accept a gift like that when you expected all the gifts to have ended by now?

I have felt physically ill when I see how much this wedding is already costing, and I think back to all those times (and there were MANY times) I scoffed at the wedding industry and couldn’t believe people spent that much money on one day that goes by likethat.

I guess I am now one of those people. Never say never, I guess.

Don’t get my intentions here wrong. I am not unappreciative. In fact, I’m so appreciative, I can’t stop crying. I seriously have cried nearly every single day for over a week, and we’ve only been wedding planning for like 5 weeks now. First it was the guest list that just about stopped my heart. Then it was the searching for a venue in a city and state we don’t live in, which makes the necessity of finding a place that much greater so we can stop worrying about it and not have to fly back and forth a million times. Then it was the list that our wedding planner handed to us with a never-ending list of things to do that shortens my breath. Then it was the year anniversary of Jake passing, which was just the cherry on top of a guilt-ridden, weepy, anxiety-producing sundae.

I will get to a place where I’m ok with all of this, I know I will. I will feel immensely happy and appreciative without the guilt. I’m not quite there yet, and I have to be ok with that too. We all have a process, and considering this is the first and last time I will ever do this, I need to move through the shock to get to the happy.

The happy is being with my partner, the happy is spending a life exploring each other and this world, the happy is making him laugh for years to come, the happy is in the celebration of this love.

The happy is Timmy. Which will be my mantra from here until our wedding day.

♥, VB